There are very rare scenarios in which a person may be in danger and unable to dial 000.
Now, there’s an app designed specifically for these situations.
BodyGuard is a live protection app that sends video, location tracking data and your identifying information to an operations centre, who then can contact police.
If you are in danger, or suspect that you may be in danger, you can open the app, and choose between three options to express your situation.
By sliding your finger on your phone, you automatically declare an emergency. Video starts recording instantly, your location is tracked, and the police are notified.
If you’re not sure whether you’re in danger, but feel unsafe, you can hold anywhere on the screen, and the app starts to track your location.
If you decide you are safe, you can tap Cancel Emergency.
If you need police, you can release your finger and the app will contact police and start recording video from your phone, and continue to track your location.
If you don’t feel safe, you can open the app with your earphones connected.
In an emergency, you can remove your earphones from your phone, and the police will be contacted.
The app’s features are highly developed, with the operations centre able to toggle between the front and rear camera on your phone, the option to have a loud alarm sound when you indicate you’re in an emergency (hopefully, to deter your attacker), and the capacity to receive your emergency within three seconds.
Another feature, terrorist watch, allows you to record video of suspicious activity, track your location, and send this information to authorities anonymously.
When I first heard about the BodyGuard app, I felt uncomfortable. Does a 'live protection app' do more harm than good, by scaring us into believing we'll one day need to silently contact police? Will the sheer option of indicating when you're feeling unsafe foster anxiety in the community? Will it make us more cautious and more hyper-aware of our surroundings?
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The chances of being attacked or hurt or in a dangerous situation are rare. In a country like Australia, the entire population spends an overwhelming majority of their days safe. Does this app misrepresent that reality?
Then I thought about the people this app could be particularly helpful for. Those in domestic violence situations. Those with close relationships with people who may become violent. Those who have had a terrifying experience in the past, and would do anything to feel like they have just a little more control of the world around them.
The app costs $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year, and can be downloaded from your App store or on Google Play. You can also try it free for a month before you make a commitment.
Would you download the app? Do you think it's helpful, or anxiety-provoking? Comment below.